Parish History


Pope Benedict XVI at St Mary’s College in 2010

1535 Richard Reynolds and John Haile martyred at Tyburn
1669 Death of Queen Henrietta Maria, Twickenham landowner.  Her lands passed to Queen Catherine, later Regent of Portugal
1744  death of Alexander Pope, Catholic satirist and poet who lived at Pope’s Villa from 1718 and built the grotto.
1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart invades England
1746 Prince Charles defeated at the Battle of Culloden.  Captured Highland swords taken to Twickenham House
1800 Beginning of link between Twickenham and the House of Bourbon-Orleans.
1864: Louis Phillippe Comte de Paris moved to York House.
1865: Princess Marie-Amelie of Bourbon-Orleans, future Queen of Portugal, born at York House.
1883: Catholic Mission in  Grosvenor Road established.
1884: Mass celebrated by Father Godfrey. James de
Lacy Towle pays for the construction of St James Church.
1885: St. James’s Church opens.
1886: Father Edmund English becomes Rector.
1887: Church consecrated on 23 July.
1888:  death of James de Lacy Towle.
1889: Jean Duc de Guise,claimant to the French throne, marries at York House.
1893: St James School opens in Grosvenor Road.
1909: Father English appointed Canon of WestminsterCathedral.
1914: Sisters of Mercy come to help in parish school and
open a Convent School. St Catherine’s School established.
1916: Convent moves to a new site in Pope’s Grove.
1922: Canon English celebrates the Golden Jubilee of his
1923: St James  School enlarged by additional classroom.
1924: Canon English dies and Father O’Brien becomes the
Parish Priest.
1925: King Manuel of Portugal unveils a window at St.
James in memory of Canon Edmund English.
1927: St. Mary’s Training College moves to Strawberry Hill. Parish Hall in Radnor Road opened by King Manuel
1932: Death of King Manuel II of Portugal.  His body is taken to Lisbon for interment.
1934:  Whitton Parish established.
1936: Father O’Brien leaves. Succeeded by Father
William Gordon.
1939: Father O’Brien dies.
1940: Father Gordon in collaboration with the Vicar of
Twickenham forms a local Christian Council.
1939  Outbreak of Second World War.  Parish Hall becomes rest centre.
1944 Pope’s Grotto pub destroyed by V 1 bomb.  St Catherine’s School damaged.
1970: Father Gordon made Canon of
Westminster Cathedral, the year of his Golden Jubilee.
1975: Canon Gordon dies. Father Dain becomes Priest.
Father Vincent Crewe becomes Assistant Priest.
1976: New St James School opened by Cardinal Hume in the grounds of Fortescue
1978: Nursery Unit added to St. James School.
1981: Another classroom added to school.
1982: Father Dain leaves St. James. Father Anthony Potter
succeeds him.
1983: New porch erected joining the church to the
1985: St. James celebrates the church’s centenary. In July
Cardinal Hume visits the parish.
1991: Fr. Alfred Xuereb SJ in charge of parish during
Fr. Potter’s illness.
2001: Mgr. George Tancred leaves parish and replaced
by Fr. Terry McGuckin.
2002: In July Fr. Terry McGuckin leaves parish and is
replaced in September by Fr. Ulick Loring. On December
17th a foundation stone of the new St. James’s School
laid by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor. In December Mgr.
Tancred dies in Ireland. A special memorial mass
at St. James’s is celebrated in his honour by Bishop George
2003: Death of Fr. Anthony Potter. A memorial mass is
celebrated at St. James’s.
2004: In June, Fr. Ulick Loring and Deacon Peter Coates visit
Moldova and establish a link with the Church of the Holy
Cross in Bender to support a children’s centre. This is followed by
the visit of Bishop Anton Cosa of Chisinau to St. James’s.
Also in June, Sister Sheila Crumlish, last Sister of Mercy
at St. Catherine’s School retires. In August, Hess Moontasir sets up the first Parish

Sunday 5 September: Service for Amelia Delagrange  on Twickenham Green
where she was murdered on 19 August.
2005: At Easter – a Parish visit to Bender in
Moldova, with a donation of €11,700 towards the construction of a children’s centre.

2009. 2nd September Bishop Anton Cosa of Chisinau, Moldova celebrates mass for Moldova Not Forgotten.

2009 Unveiling of memorial to King Manuel and Queen Augusta of Portugal in the presence of the Mayor of Richmond, HRH Dom Miguel of Braganza Infante of Portugal, H E The Portuguese Ambassador.  Bishop George Stack, auxiliary of Westminster was the main celebrant.

2010 125th anniversary of church celebrated with a visit by Archbishop Vincent Nichols. HH Pope Benedict XVI visits St Mary’s University College.
2011 Opening of new porch, and chapel for children dedicated to St Joseph
2012 London Borough of Richmond agree to construction of a Catholic Secondary School on the site the Richmond Adult Community College in Clifden Road.  In December the High Court throws out an appeal by opponents of the school to stop its progress.
First May Ball in the Waldegrave Room of St Mary’s University College
2013 Completion of the Emmanuel Centre and opening in June by the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.
September 2013 Official opening of St Richard Reynolds Catholic College by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark.
November 2013 visit by HRH Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, and heir to the throne of Portugal to St James’s Church.
August 2014 First World War Commemoration: HSH Princess Marie-Therese von Hohenberg renames the entrance gate to Radnor Gardens
May 2015 Andy Cole, Chairman of St Richard Reynolds College invested as Knight of St Gregory the Great at St Mary’s University Chapel
September 2015 Parish takes part in the Great River Race from Millwall to Ham for the first time
September 2015 Visit of H E Joao de Vallera, Ambassador of Portugal
28th November 2015 Mass celebrated to commemorate the victims of the Paris killings
2016 Evensong at St George’s Chapel Windsor to raise funds for two new stained glass windows

2017 September Bishop John Wilson celebrates the redecoration of the church

9th April 2018 Unveiling of two stained glass windows designed by Caroline Benyon.  Unveiling by HE the Portuguese Ambassador and Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie.  Blessing by Rt Rev Bishop John Wilson.

July 2018 Jane Leigh presented with the Bene Merente medal for services to the parish over many years

9th April 2019 Unveiling of windows memorial plaque by HE the Portuguese Ambassador.

23rd June 2020 death of Deacon Peter Coates